Abney Park Cemetery

Abney Park is one of Hackney’s finest green spaces and is listed as a Grade II park on Historic England’s register of parks and gardens of historic interest.

As one of London’s ‘Magnificent 7’ garden cemeteries, it opened in 1840 and is the resting place of around 200,000 people in 60,000 graves. They have memorials ranging from elaborate monuments to pathside common grave markers.

It covers 12.5 hectares and is located between Stoke Newington Church Street and Stoke Newington High Street.

Abney Park restoration project

We have been successful in our application to the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) to improve Abney Park. The project aims to conserve and develop all aspects of the park, its built and natural heritage and improve the experience for all of the park’s users.

The historic chapel will be brought back into use as a venue and there will be a new cafe and classroom at the park’s main entrance, as well as a new accessible entrance on Church Street. We’ll be improving the signage, but the valuable and much loved haven for trees, plants and wildlife will remain intact.

Work to restore the interior of the Chapel will include laying a new floor, providing toilet facilities, electricity, lighting, and new seating at balcony level. The new cafe will provide refreshments for park visitors, as well as an interpretation of the site’s history. A new classroom will be created for us to welcome more school and community learning groups. An environmentally friendly heat pump will be installed in the park to provide heat and hot water to the new buildings and help reduce the carbon footprint of Hackney’s parks and green spaces in line with our plan to reach net zero carbon by 2031:

The restoration project started on 6 September 2021 and is due to be completed by spring 2023. The park will remain open throughout the restoration, but on occasion one of the entrances may be temporarily closed for works to be carried out. Thank you for your patience during the work.

For restoration updates and further information see Abney Park Trust.

The Abney Park Trust office is closed for the duration of the project, and the Trust is now operating from a temporary office. They can still be contacted by email: info@abneyparktrust.org.

Project FAQs

New Abney Park cafe

As part of the restoration project, a new cafe facility will be built behind the historic lodge building on the right hand of the main entrance. As well as providing a place to get refreshments, relax, and meet with friends and family, it will form an important income stream to assist with funding the future management and maintenance of the park, making it more sustainable.

We will be looking to tender the opportunity in the near future. You can express your interest in running the cafe by signing up for updates.

Images of proposed cafe

Abney Park cafe designs

Abney Unearthed

The Abney Unearthed project aims to research, map and learn about the people buried in Abney Park when the park operated as a commercial cemetery from 1840 to the late 1970s.

The volunteer based project has now successfully run for almost three years. Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (now NLHF) and Hackney Council in 2017 allowed the project to run for two years, and Hackney Council funded the project from March to August this year.

At the end of 2019 the first phase was given a successful rating by the NLHF after providing informative tours and displays, also adding information to the database and maps to create a searchable online map.

The project tells the story of the cemetery’s residents and how the site reflects the social changes that have taken place in Hackney and East London since the cemetery opened in 1840.

The project means we’re learning more about the people buried here, and exactly where their graves are.

For more information see Abney Unearthed.

Find out if someone is buried in Abney Park

It can be very difficult to find a grave even with a plot number – the ground around the graves can be uneven and overgrown, so we recommend one of our staff come with you if you are searching for a specific grave. Please email info@abneypark.org to enquire about finding a grave.

If you decide to explore without our help, please bear in mind that, as well as a memorial park, Abney Park is also a nature reserve and an important site for a variety of plants and wildlife – so please take care not to damage the memorials or disturb the vegetation or habitats.

Abney Unearthed is working hard to replace as much missing information as possible By checking every grave. However, there are still gaps in the burial information:

  • records for May 1970 – May 1974 and May 1978 – March 1979 are missing
  • records for Jan 1935 – March 1936 are missing
  • records for Jan 1903 to Jan 1904 are missing
  • not all plot numbers are on the maps
  • not all burials are marked or have a headstone
  • common graves are often unmarked and we are unable to locate any prior to 1918

Common graves are also often unmarked on the plot maps but we do have some knowledge of their locations. Abney Unearthed has so far added around 200 common graves to the plot maps.

History

No longer a working cemetery, Abney Park is run as a park and is a site of metropolitan importance for biodiversity. It’s one of London’s most central woodlands and an important site for deadwood invertebrates and fungi.

The site was formed in 1840 from the estates of Fleetwood House and Abney House. Abney House had been the home of renowned non-conformist and hymn writer Isaac Watts, which led to Abney Park becoming the foremost burial ground for Dissenters – people who practised their religion outside the established church.

It was founded on these principles, with a non-denominational chapel, and was open to all, regardless of their religion – it’s the only one of the Magnificent 7 that’s not consecrated.

The cemetery was designated a local nature reserve in 1993 due to its value for people and wildlife. It’s also a metropolitan site of importance for nature conservation, meaning that it’s one of the most important sites for biodiversity in London.

It’s home to an impressive collection of trees, as it was originally laid out around 1840 as an arboretum – a labelled tree collection.

Trees

Abney Park Cemetery has around 200 old trees in it. In 1840 the site was planted as an arboretum of exotic trees by Hackney’s famous Loddiges nursery. Several rare and interesting old trees remain from this period. As the cemetery business declined in the 20th century, the woodland seeded itself and the reserve is now one of London’s most important sites for wildlife.

The concentration of old trees, excellent deadwood habitats, and the fact that the site has never been built on, make Abney Park a priceless inner London haven for invertebrates and fungi. Bats, tawny owls, sparrowhawks, wood mice and bank voles also find homes here.

The Abney Park Veteran Tree Project was created in 2009 in recognition of the importance of the old trees. The project was funded by the London Tree and Woodland Grant Scheme.

Further reading

Wildlife

There’s an abundance of wildlife in Abney Park Cemetery. A local amateur naturalist has produced some drawings of the birds and butterflies that are present there:

The ecology of Abney Park

Abney Park Trust

The park was previously managed by Abney Park Trust, a charitable trust who leased the park from the Council between 1992 and 2015.

They’re still closely involved in an educational and community capacity, and receive a Council grant to run activities at the site including workshops for both adults and children, guided walks and practical volunteering.

The Council is now working closely with the Trust to develop and deliver an activity plan as part of the NLHF funded restoration project.

Events and activities

Abney Park Trust puts on a range of events, activities and walking tours of the cemetery on different topics.  These help reveal the many hidden stories of Abney.

See the Abney Park Trust website for more information and to sign up to its newsletter.

Filming

Abney Park is a unique and atmospheric place and has provided a backdrop for films, music videos and other media. If you’d like to film in Abney Park please contact our film office.

Safety checks

The cemetery dates back to 1840 and there are a large number of memorials, some of which are very old and need to be inspected to make sure they’re safe.

As the gravestones and memorials are inspected, some may need to be cordoned off or occasionally laid flat. Families of the deceased whose graves are affected will be informed where possible. When visiting the cemetery please stay on the paths and observe the safety notices.

Barbecues

Barbecues are not allowed in Abney Park.

Volunteer

If you’d like to volunteer as part of one of our projects, please email volunteering@abneypark.org.

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Page updated on: 5 May 2022

Abney Park Cemetery

Address

South Lodge
Abney Park Cemetery
Stoke Newington High Street
N16 0LH

Telephone

Opening times

  • 8am
  • Closing Times:
  • 1-23 Jan: 4pm
  • 24 Jan - 6 Feb: 4.30pm
  • 7 Feb - 27 Feb: 5pm
  • 28 Feb - 13 Mar: 5.30pm
  • 14 Mar - 26 Mar: 6.30pm
  • 27 Mar - Apr 10: 7pm
  • 11 Apr - 24 Apr: 7.30pm
  • 25 Apr - 8 May: 8pm
  • 9 May - 7 Aug: 8.30pm
  • 8 Aug - 21 Aug: 8pm
  • 22 Aug - 4 Sep: 7.30pm
  • 5 Sep - 18 Sep: 7pm
  • 19 Sep - 2 Oct: 6.30pm
  • 3 Oct - 16 Oct: 6pm
  • 17 Oct - 29 Oct: 5.30pm
  • 30 Oct - 31 Dec: 4pm